What About Donating Half Your CSA Share to Help Fight Hunger Locally?

Who Is Rachel Keniston?
Rachel Keniston has been concerned about food insecurity in Eau Claire, working at the Community Table since 2008, becoming its director in 2010, and recently retiring from it. “Food is one of our most basic needs, regardless of our financial situation,” she says.

While she worked at Community Table, Keniston and her family were building a sustainable agriculture farm, Solheim Market Gardens, using permaculture principles, with the mission to grow clean, fresh local produce in ways that respect and build the soil with minimal mechanical cultivation, hoes and hands for weed control, crop rotation and row covers to minimize pest issues. To Keniston and her family, the farm too is part of community building. “We all need healthy food regardless of our income levels. Our community (country and world) also need more small local food producers. It is important that our food not be traveling from all ends of the world, that it not be sprayed with chemicals. The way we grow food is important.”

One of the goals with Solheim Market Gardens was to eventually have a community supported agriculture program. In studying CSA good practices, Keniston was given the advice to not put too much food in the weekly share box. “People feel guilty if they can’t use it all,” she says. “None of us likes to throw good food away. The up side of partnering with a farmer through CSA is that people do eat more vegetables! But too much waste is the number one reason people give for dropping a CSA share.” Keniston read about a farm in Monroe, Wisconsin, that is a nonprofit that grows produce specifically for Feeding America, which distributes produce to food banks. She explains, “Instead of providing shareholders with produce, they grow to give to the food bank. Shareholders can also make donations to help purchase seed, equipment, and labor.”

What Is Her New Idea to Fight Local Food Insecurity?
While pondering both her concern for those experiencing food insecurity and her CSA goals, a light went off in her head. “I started to wonder if it would be possible to offer shareholders the option of subscribing to half a share but then donating the other half to Feed My People Food Bank, which would welcome more produce to share with those in need.” She describes how this would work: “First, could the farmer grow a crop specifically to be donated to a food bank for the food insecure? Yes, of course, but most farmers producing at this level are barely making ends meet themselves. That donation from a farmer would be a little like the poor feeding the poor. My thought was if people are willing to partner with the farmer to help create an economically stable farm operation where members are assured the highest quality produce, then maybe they’d be willing to help the farmer and the food bank by subscribing to a full share but donating half to the food bank.” If thirty half boxes of produce were donated weekly, that would be a big help to Feed My People and to the people coming to the food bank. The farmer could plan ahead of time to grow a large bed of certain vegetables for just that purpose. She explains, “At the end of the season, shareholders who donated could be notified of the total weight of produce they donated and the monetary market value of that produce. This could be used for tax documentation.”

Keniston has high hopes for the project, saying, “If it works this growing season, we would like to expand the effort and encourage other local farmers to join in.”

For more information and to sign up to donate a half share, visit www.solheimwi.com or www.facebook.com/solheim.wi.

Cooked: An Evening with Michael Pollan

by Christine Varnavas, M.S., RYT (owner of Anandaworks yoga, Yoga for Everyone and more)

“Eat, drink, and be merry for tomorrow we will die,” are the song lyrics from The Dave Mathews Tripping Billie hit, that food justice advocate Michael Pollan opened up with. How fun was this going to be? One of my food heroes and humor to boot all wrapped up into one. So who is Michael Pollan? Author, champion, researcher, foodie, and advocate for eating healthy and why we should do it. Mr. Pollan spoke for an hour on Thursday, May 3, in St. Louis Park, Minnesota, on how crucial it is to understand the connection between where the human world and the natural world intersect in reference to our food. His mantra, by understanding the human-food experience, is, “This is how we build health, wealth, and social change.” He speaks to my foodie heart.

Pollan is a leader in the food movement and has written numerous books including The Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals; In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto; Food Rules; and has just finished his seventh book Cooked. Cooked is a work about “the ethics of eating, how we align eating with our values, morals, and ethics.” In writing Cooked, he spoke of embarking on a journey with his wife and son into his own kitchen where he discovered the power of the four classical elements—fire, water, air, and earth—and that it is here, in the kitchen, that we demonstrate our “ethics of eating.” It is the cook who holds a special place in our lives not only because he/she provides us with sustenance, but that the act of cooking represents much more than simply putting food on the table. It represents family, memories from childhood, nurturing, and lays the foundation for the most important institution we have—the meal. Cooking connects us.

The night was full of anecdotes and details as to how his literary food journey came about. It was in 2000 that Pollan first stumbled into the world of genetically modified foods (GMOs), industrialized farms, and the wide use of pesticides in the farming industry. He shared a story about visiting an industrialized potato farm in Idaho where he saw the sheer mass of pesticides that were used. The farmers themselves couldn’t eat their field potatoes out of the ground because they were so contaminated with systemic pesticides, nor could they go into the field to do maintenance or fix a broken sprayer, due to the toxicity of the chemicals. The potatoes also had to be stored for six months after harvesting to off-gas the toxins. This was the only way the purchaser, McDonald’s, would buy them. These same farmers also grew small gardens of organic potatoes by their houses for their personal consumption. Yikes! Behold, the French fries.

He told of another farm on Route 5 in California, the Harris ranch, a huge feedlot next to the highway (most are hidden). He said he could smell the stench for 2 miles before he got there. The visual he described is only something I’ve seen in movies or read about. He described miles of manure-encrusted land with thousands of animals and a giant mountain of corn and a giant mountain of manure, each mountain a supplier for the other. “Ah, the Big Mac!”, he said with a grin.

When Pollan spoke of the processed food industry, he spoke with such passion that the majority of the 1,500 foodies present nodded, smiled, and grimaced. Processed foods became more popular in the 1960s as more women went to work, which created a deficit at home as they couldn’t be expected to do everything.  Pollan doesn’t hold the movement accountable. He points the finger at the food industry as “aligning itself with the women’s movement through marketing.” Entire meals, “home meal replacements” as the food industry terms them, appeared in all shapes, sizes, and ethnicities. The outsourcing of cooking, traditionally considered women’s work, made it easier for women to “invest in other pursuits.” There were benefits to this undoubtedly. However, when you couple the increase in outsourcing our meals and fast food with the decrease in home cooking, which undermined our “primary eating” as a family, a problem arises. The problem manifests in the decrease of the health of our bodies, families, communities, and land. We spend more time now on “secondary eating” (eating while doing something else), an average of 78 minutes per day. We spend more time watching food being prepared on TV than we actually do cooking and eating it.

Given our country’s current history of providing cheap food (farm subsidizing of corn and soy) and the outsourcing of food, it is time we look at the basic institution of cooking the meal as more than women’s work. We should address it with the care and nurturing that our grandmothers did. I bet it is safe to say that most of us have fond memories from our childhood of spending time in the kitchen with an adult who magically transformed miscellaneous food items into a dish that fed our senses. I most certainly do. Cooking just might be one of the fixes to some of our health and environmental needs in this country. If we could spend just 78 minutes a day planning, creating, making a mess, and eating together, we may just be on to something here. So here’s to all the cooks out there…bon appetit and keep up the good work.

Christine Varnavas is a local foodie, cook, yoga teacher, and traveler. She also is the creator of the Chippewa Valley WellFEST, an interactive wellness event coming to the Valley March 8, 2014. A Second Opinion will be playing a major role in WellFEST … mark your calendars!

Taking the Guilt out of Holiday Eating

by Kristina Ingrouille, UW-Stout Dietetic Intern

The fall signals the start of a two month long holiday food fest, starting with Halloween and ending with New Year’s celebration. In addition, people tend to be less active during the colder months. General weight gain during the holiday season was once thought to be five to eight pounds; however, studies show that the typical weight gain for an individual is around one pound. This pound can be difficult to lose throughout the year and can add up over a number of years.

Many people will focus on losing weight during the holiday season, but it may be more realistic to set your sights on maintaining your current weight. This can be achieved by balancing what you eat with regular exercise. Eating more calories than you burn causes weight gain.

Holiday season stress is one factor that can trigger the desire to eat more. Eating high fat and calorie dense foods triggers chemical reactions in the brain. This can cause the brain to release endorphins, which for a short period of time makes you feel satisfied but can lead to cravings and eating more. Planning ahead before going to a gathering can help with self-control and ease the stress of deciding what to eat.

There are many tips that can help an individual avoid overindulging at holiday parties.

Here are some suggestions:

• Maintain a regular eating schedule. Skipping meals can cause blood sugar levels to drop and may result in overeating the rest of the day.
• Avoid going to a holiday party hungry. Eat a healthy snack such as fruit or veggies before heading out. This helps in reducing the chance of overeating and choosing less healthy options at the party.
• Take a stroll to see what foods are at the party before filling up the plate. Plan ahead what item to bring. Select a nutritious lower-calorie option such as vegetable tray and dip or Pumpkin Tomato Bisque recipe (listed below).
• Take smaller portions. Many times a smaller plate will help, but be careful not to overload the plate.
• Take a larger amount of vegetables (almost half the plate).
• Chew slowly and take smaller bites. This helps the brain and stomach to feel full faster and lessen the chances of overeating.
• Listen to your body! Wait twenty minutes before going back for seconds. Many people ignore satiety, which is the body’s cue of feeling full.
• Take the food or yourself away from the table when done. Grazing adds extra calories to the daily intake.
• If you overindulge one day, try to eat healthy and calorie-conscious the next day. This will help to get back on track with your normal eating routine.

Ways to reduce fat and calories in homemade recipes:

• Make mashed potatoes with low-sodium chicken broth and evaporated skim milk for added moisture and creaminess. Hold the butter, and no one will know!
• For glazing vegetables use pineapple or orange juice thickened with corn starch to sweet potatoes and carrots; adding pumpkin spice gives a festive flavor.
• Use half the sugar in pumpkin pie recipes and substitute brown sugar for white sugar, which adds more flavor.
• Use light or fat-free whipping cream, or hold the whipped cream altogether to save on the calories.

Low-fat baking options:

• Applesauce and plain low-fat yogurt can substitute fat in most recipes. If the recipe calls for ½ cup of butter, replace ¼ cup butter with unsweetened applesauce.
• Mashed ripe bananas can be used as a fat replacement in carrot or banana cake or muffins. Replace half the amount of the fat with mashed bananas in the recipe.
• Prune-based fruit puree works well in place of butter in chocolate, spice, or carrot cakes.
• Baby foods can be good fat substitutes in dishes that have similar flavors.
• Two egg whites can replace one whole egg in a recipe. This can save more than 10 grams of fat and 100 calories.
• Replace heavy cream or whipping cream with evaporated skim milk.


Yield: 8 servings

3 TBSP butter OR 3 TBSP vegetable oil
1 large onion, chopped
28 oz. can whole tomatoes w/ juices
4 cups freshly made pumpkin puree OR 4 cups
canned pumpkin puree
3 cups chicken stock (3-4 cups)
1  red pepper puree garnish (optional)
1 TBSP maple syrup or honey
Salt to taste

1. In a 10-inch skillet, melt the butter or heat oil over medium-low heat. Add the onion and sauté slowly, stirring often, until limp but not brown, 6-7 minutes. Stir in 3 cups stock and let simmer, partially covered, about 15 minutes.
2. Pour the tomatoes with their juice into a food processor. Add the maple syrup or honey and puree. Add the pumpkin, and buzz again. Strain the stock, and add the strained-out onions to the processor. Buzz again, and, if an extra smooth soup is desired, put through a power strainer.
3. Add the tomato-pumpkin puree to the stock. Season with the salt. Reheat, and serve very hot. Garnished with red pepper puree if desired. Serves 8-10

Kristina Ingrouille is a UW-Stout Dietetic Intern working with the Eau Claire County WIC Project.

Information received from:

Recipe from www.recipe source.com

Happy Shake

Want a pick me up, make my day, keep me full, and help me stay healthy kind of breakfast?  Eat this!!!

• Liquid Base. Start with 1/2 cup water.

• 4 cups of loosely packed spinach.

• A Good FAT. You need the good fat for metabolizing the spinach and keeping you satisfied for hours. You may choose from 1

• Tbsp. coconut oil, 1 Tbsp. hemp seed or 1 raw egg. (You may want to start with a bit less water if using an egg.)


• 1 Tbsp. Maca for stamina, endurance and mental clarity.

• 1 Tbsp. Raw Cacao for that HAPPY BLISS feeling.

• A great option for some additional alkalizing GREENS … Add 1 Tbsp. Vitamineral Green.

Blend all ingredients into your “green sludge”. Add 2 cups frozen fruit of your choice to your “green sludge”. BLUEberries+GREEN “sludge” = Chocolate BROWN!

Note: Superfoods like Maca and Cacao are very powerful foods. These foods border medicine. This is a good time to do your own research on these two amazing foods. Start in small doses and listen to your body.

Raw Maca Root: Incan Superfood
Maca root has been used in indigenous Andean societies as a source of nourishment and healing for thousands of years, and continues to be one of the most appreciated superfoods today. Used to increase stamina, boost libido, and combat fatigue, maca root has long been regarded as a highly adaptogenic food. Navitas Naturals Raw Maca Powder is the raw and natural form of this special root — gently dried and ground to preserve its vitality and nutritional structure. With an earthy taste that is slightly nutty with a hint of butterscotch, maca is easily blended into superfood smoothies, various milks, chocolates, or mixed into flour for dessert recipes. For more info see www.navitasnaturals.com.

Cacao: Chocolate Nutrition
Navitas Naturals Cacao Powder brings the chocolate factory to your kitchen, as it instantly transforms smoothies, desserts, pies and other countless recipes into the healthiest chocolate indulgence around. Put a spoonful into your next treat and see why this super food has been enjoyed for thousands of years. Plus, with no added sugar, Navitas Naturals Cacao Powder is an exceptionally healthy way to stock up on antioxidants and important minerals like magnesium and iron. Check out the cacao recipe section for great ideas and make your life as chocolate-y as you please!

For more info see www.navitasnaturals.com.

Green Pages » Jan./Feb. ‘13

New Co-op Develops in Durand

In April 2012, a group of individuals held a public meeting to gauge response and chose a steering committee to develop what would become Good Egg Food Co-op. This committee spent much time gathering information, wrote a mission statement, and decided what type of co-op model to utilize. Although the co-op is not officially open yet, that hasn’t stopped the growing excitement for the new organization.

Joe Casteberg currently serves as Secretary and Project Manager of Good Egg Food Co-op. “The Good Egg Food Co-op has numerous goals, almost entirely focused on helping out and further developing our local area,” Casteberg explained. “More importantly, the focus is to bring the best, healthiest, and most ethically-produced food possible to our community.”

Once the co-op officially opens, the committee hopes to have a free in-store library and information center, classes and workshops to assist with the mission. “We plan to do this not because it’s profitable, but because it is the right thing to do for our community,” Casteberg said.

Part of doing what is right for the community means allowing community members to become actively involved in the co-op. While people can purchase stock in the co-op, membership will also be offered to all of the co-op workers and producers. “We plan to have separate membership classes, with equivalent seats on the board, so everyone can and will have a stake and a say in our business,” Casteberg explained. Managing a co-op in this way is known as a ‘hybrid model’ or ‘multi-stakeholder model’, something the committee is proud to offer to the Durand-area community.

While it is not officially open yet, the co-op has already offered one very successful event to the community. The inaugural Farm to Table Dinner Event was held on October 6; the event was a huge success, as it was a way to sample one-of-a-kind local food produced by local farmers and businesses. The event, which raised over $4,000, will assist in the set-up of membership and stock programs in the coming months. Because of the event success in drawing attention to local food producers, organizers hope to offer another similar event in spring 2013.

Good Egg Food Co-op is interested in involving local people that want to promote buying locally, eating healthy foods, and developing a sense of community. To find out about upcoming events and ways you can become involved, please visit www.goodeggfoodcoop.com for more information. Click on the ‘Members’ or ‘Volunteers’ page to discover various committees and for information on how to contact volunteer coordinator Martha Gingras. Donations can also be mailed to Good Egg Food Co-op, P.O. Box 208, Durand, WI 54736.

“We encourage people to get involved now, and help our board of directors make the most important decisions they need to make before the store is opened,” Casteberg concluded.

Yoga Retreat in 2013!

Yogify in the Riviera Maya!
Shambala Petit Hotel, Tulum, Mexico
March 15-22 (6 spots available!)

Whether you’re new to yoga or have an established practice, this daily experience of yoga offers significant evolution for the body and the spirit. For 2+ hours a day we use tools of movement, breath and meditation to cultivate strength and centering. Then we take it off the mat into life! Yoga changes the way you do everything else.

Shambala Petit Hotel is a small, luxury resort that specializes in yoga retreats and offers clean, minimal decor and maximum hospitality. You’ll enjoy the warm blue waters of the Caribbean and magnificent Tulum Beach.

Cost range: $1,100 to $1,800 per person (double occupancy and depending on casita selection) for one week. Includes retreat tuition, 2+ hours of yoga each day, accommodation, three meals a day, a 45-minute Acupressure session with Dotty Bacon and an estimated $100 for ground transportation from Cancun International Airport. It does not include airfare. A $300 deposit is required to reserve your spot. If you have questions or need more information, please email andrea@thirdmountain.com/715-231-9000.

Peace, Love and Bananas

by Amy Annis, Madeline Island Yoga Retreats and Clean Spirit Yoga

I’m becoming a Gorilla.  Not the traditional dark and furry ape that roams the jungle but the yogic kind that roams the urban street of Eau Claire teaching yoga classes to support my community.

It’s not my original idea.  The Gorilla Yogis was the brainchild of Minneapolis Urban dwellers Jess Rosenberg and Nan Arundel who decided that their community would benefit from a monthly yoga class.  Not only would they create unity but they could potentially raise money for community partners.  They had no idea the beautiful ball of karma enclosed in their gorilla paws.

The first event was for the benefit of the Smile Network.  Half expecting 30 yogis to walk in, they taught to a crowd of over 200 raising enough funds to repair a cleft palate for a child.  The experience was exhilarating and they continued to use their talents to re-create fantastic monthly yoga events.  To date they have raised over 30,000 for community partners in the Twin Cities area.

When I called Jess to ask her for a bit of assistance, there wasn’t even a pause.  I had discussed the idea with a few of my favorite Eau Claire yogis, Kristin Polez from Drammen Yoga, Aveen Banich from Life By Design and Amelia Daniels and we were looking for some insight to avoid re-creating the yogic wheel.  Conducive to the true nature of most yogis, Jess didn’t hesitate when I suggested she shared her creative project with us.  “I will help you”, she said.

Thus, the Gorilla Yogis – Eau Claire chapter was established and with karmic ease  out yoga troop leaders have already met with a fantastic response.  Our first event is scheduled at The Children’s Museum in Eau Claire at 10 am on January 26th and 100% of the proceeds raised from that event will go to our community partner.

Life by Design … Come Home to Your Fabulous Self!

Life by Design is a space for many things — yoga, laughter yoga, life coaching, meditation, healing and reiki, design, and life celebrations. However, it was really envisioned as a place for community and connection for conversation and ideas, laughter and friendship, learning and exploring your soul’s purpose.

Conceived by a group of Chippewa Valley women, Life by Design is meant to be a little sanctuary of stillness and peace or a place filled with loud laughter and animated discussions. It all really depends on the day and what you are seeking.

On our sign and print materials, you will see a beautiful emerging butterfly. Richard Buckminster Fuller once said that “There is nothing in a caterpillar that tells you it is going to be a butterfly.” Do you ever feel like there is more to you than you are currently revealing to the world or even to yourself?

As women, we often put our own dreams and self-care on the back burner in order to take care of others. What dream or vision of your life’s purpose currently masquerades as a caterpillar? Perhaps you do not even know yet but have a desire to uncover it.

Through a wide variety of offerings, our dream at Life by Design is to empower and inspire you to explore these dreams and to enhance your well-being and natural awesomeness. Yeah we said it; you are naturally awesome! We all are and at Life by Design we intend to not let you forget it.

Lily Pad Lab

The Lily Pad Lab is excited to announce it will be opening its doors in Mid-January. What is the Lily Pad Lab?

A classroom – a place for kids, alongside their parents, to learn and grow through our stimulating, entertaining and educational, age appropriate classes

A play room – have a cup of coffee or tea, relax on a comfy couch, allow your child to explore all the Lab has to offer.

A community – an opportunity to meet new families and feel connected.

At the Lily Pad Lab our goal to inspire kids to explore the world around them; to capture the curiosity of young children, encourage them to hold on to it and let it guide them as they grow, all right alongside their parent or trusted adult.  Our February/March session of parent/child classes include Tiny Scientists, Art Lab, Lily Pad Test Kitchen, Spanish and Music, The Littlest Lab, and Winter Wiggles.

We will also have Open Lab time in which we will set up stations for kids and parents to explore together including science experiments, art projects, dramatic play, sensory play, etc.  We will also provide educational toys for kids to explore on their own developing a sense of independence and giving parents a chance to relax and observe.

We will also be hosting one-day Family Events, Baby Brunches, and seasonal celebrations.

It is never too early to introduce science vocabulary and concepts.  Science starts with understanding concepts that develop as early as infancy.  One of the first scientific processes is Observation which uses all the senses.  Young children explore the world using their senses.  They look, touch, smell, hear and taste.  All kids are curious and want to know everything about their environment!  Spend this precious time with your child as they explore, discover and develop an understanding for the world they live in!

To register or to find more details on Classes, Events and Open Lab time go to www.lilypadlab.com.  Class sizes are small and they will fill up fast, so register early.